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VILANDER: Road America Debrief

Toni Vilander files his latest Sportscar365 column following Road America…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

It’s hard to know where to start after the weekend we’ve just had at Road America, having a potential win and a definite podium snatched away at the last minute through no fault of our own.

The sensible part of me says “That’s Racing” but the human part finds it a lot harder to deal with and some losses hurt more than others.

I suppose that in some ways being in the car was preferable to being in the pits and having to see everyone’s faces in the Risi pit – I just had to deal with it and get back to finish (5th in the end) for some points.

Road America is a great track that we all like visiting, and it always provides great close racing.

It’s got some really challenging corners and you need to push yourself to the limit in fast corners. Off track the fans are fun, quite knowledgeable and they seem to really enjoy the racing.

Our Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE performed well at the track all weekend and we were in the mix in every session.

We have had a little improvement in the BoP which means we’re better on straight line speed, and the team hasn’t stopped working on the car’s set up which is improving all the time.

We’ve also made some small steps in other areas but all these add up to make a difference.

We had no major problems over the weekend but the racing in the GTLM class is always very competitive and re-starts after a yellow in the race are a big challenge – you really need to be awake otherwise it’s easy to lose many places.

Giancarlo did a great job in qualifying and in his stints so we were always able to challenge at or near the front.

A good job by us both plus good strategy and the usual excellent job by the boys in the pit stops meant we were right there at the end and pushing hard for our first win of the season.

Two laps from the end though we were touched by the Mazda prototype which spun me off the track.

I was charging for the lead, having a great battle with the leading Ford GT of Richard Westbrook, and it seems to me that the prototype – which wasn’t challenging for a podium place – should have realized the situation I was in and used some caution in his overtaking maneuver… I turned into Turn 1 and he touch me on the rear right tire.

Of course it was a big disappointment for all of us on the team, and another great result gone, but we keep pushing and our time will come. I’m sure of it.

We were competitive all weekend and charging for the race win which gives us energy and a strong belief for the coming races that we can perform well and get onto that top step of the podium.

I’ve got a little bit of home and family time now and then we’re back in two weeks for VIR which is another track which has been good to Risi and Ferrari in the past. Let’s hope that continues for 2016.

Toni Vilander (@Toni_Vilander) is a two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner and 2014 FIA World Endurance GTE-Pro Champion, driving for Risi Competizione in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.


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